GHOSTS OF MISSISSIPPI
In June 1963, Byron De La Beckwith ( Woods), a vehement racist,
assassinated civil rights activist Medgar Evers. Acquitted due to
two mistrials, Beckwith has been a free man for thirty years.
However, in 1989 Medgar's widow, Myrlie (Goldberg) brings up the
case again, and this time it falls into the lap of Mississippi
assistant district attorney Bobby DeLaughter (Baldwin). His boss,
Ed Peters (Nelson) isn't crazy about him taking the case, due to
its notoriety and because most of the original evidence is
missing and most of the witnesses are now dead. As Bobby
encounters crank calls, death threats and his wife leaving him,
he pushes even harder to build a case to retry Beckwith for the
"This reality-based film is one of high expectation, yet
it is curiously unsatisfying. One of its major problems is that
few people have ever heard of Medgar Evers and his assassination,
yet the film barely touches on Evers.
We have so little of an
inkling as to who he was and his contribution to the civil rights
cause that the aftermath of his death lacks the emotional punch
this film is desperate to attain.
Nor does the film delve into
the psychology of Beckwith’s intense racism, giving his
character a very black and white view of the world, one that
seems artificial and cliched. Performances are also rather
mundane, from James "Gee, I’m over-acting under all
this latex" Woods, to an insipid and passionless performance
by Alec Baldwin, though Whoopee Goldberg gives a certain inner
strength as Evers’ widow.
What could have been a fascinating
and powerful look at an unsung hero in the history of Southern
America’s Civil Rights Movement, instead becomes another
predictable courtroom melodrama, lifeless and lacking the
conviction that director Rob Reiner normally carries to his work.
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GHOSTS OF MISSISSIPPI PG
CAST: Alec Baldwin, Whoopi Goldberg, James Woods, Craig T.
DIRECTOR: Rob Reiner
PRODUCER: Frederick Zollo, Nicholas Paleologos, Andrew
Scheinman, Rob Reiner
SCRIPT: Lewis Colick
CINEMATOGRAPHER: John Seale
EDITOR: Robert Leighton
MUSIC: Marc Shaiman
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Lilly Kilvert
RUNNING TIME: 130 mins
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: TriStar
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: May 1, 1997